’33 billion naira fraud’: Former Energy Minister Saleh Mamman collapses in court

’33 billion naira fraud’: Former Energy Minister Saleh Mamman collapses in court

Saleh Mamman, a former Energy Minister under former President Muhammadu Buhari, collapsed on Thursday outside the Federal High Court in Abuja.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) filed a 12-count complaint bordering on money laundering to the tune of N33,804,830,503 against Mamman.

Ahead of Thursday’s trial, Mamman’s lawyer Femi Ate informed Judge James Omotosho that his client had collapsed due to health problems.

When the hearing resumed, the former minister entered the courtroom and took his place in the dock. His clothes were partly soaked.

The judge then asked Mamman why he was sweating or if it was raining outside.

The former minister said water was poured on him.

Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, the EFCC counsel, had told the court that there was a development outside the courtroom.

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Olumide-Fusika said he discussed Mamman’s ill health with Ate outside the courtroom.

“I was informed of an incident that happened outside. I would like my learned counsel to personally inform the court,” Olumide-Fusika said.

In response, Ate said: “After being brought to the court premises, Mamman collapsed and had to be resuscitated and treated by the medical staff of the Federal High Court.”

He said the charge was brought against his client after he was resuscitated.

“It was served this morning,” he added.

Ate said he appealed to Olumide-Fusika to have the matter adjourned to Monday because of his client’s ill health.

However, the judge said that due to the backlog of court cases, arraignment could not be set until the end of September.

Ate then withdrew the oral request for adjournment.

“I TOOK DRUGS WITHOUT EATING”

Olumide-Fusika said he filed an amended charge in the morning following a mistake in the name of the defendant, and prayed that a new charge be read to Mamman so that he could plead.

Omotosho hesitated, however.

The judge then asked Mamman if he was able to plead guilty today. The defendant replied in the affirmative.

The former minister told the court he collapsed outside the courtroom because he had taken medication on an empty stomach.

He said that while he was outside the courtroom waiting to be called, his blood pressure dropped.

Mamman said he was fit to continue the proceedings.

“It can happen to anyone,” the judge said.

The former minister told the court that he had drawn the attention of his lawyer to the “error” made by the EFCC in the charge sheet served on him.

“I was complaining about the name, that it wasn’t mine,” he said.

Omotosho then adjourned the arraignment until 1 p.m. today.

Mamman was appointed as a minister by former President Muhammadu Buhari in August 2019 and was sent back in September 2021.

In May 2023, the former minister was stopped by the anti-graft agency for an alleged N22 billion fraud.

The anti-graft agency alleges that Mamman conspired with officials of the Ministry of Energy and some private companies to “indirectly convert” the sum of N33.8 billion, meant for the Zungeru and Mambilla hydroelectric projects.